AP Interview: Jones says farmers scared by Trump’s tariffs
By LISA MASCARO
AP Congressional Correspondent
Thursday, December 13
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Doug Jones said Alabama’s soybean farmers and automobile manufacturers are “scared to death” over President Donald Trump’s tariff wars, but he cautioned Democrats from spending too much time attacking the president as the party tries to win back heartland voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
In an Associated Press interview, the Democrat who won a stunning victory from the Deep South a year ago Wednesday said he doesn’t think there’s enough evidence to impeach the president, even as prosecutors allege Trump directed his lawyer to make illegal hush money payments. Democrats’ time would be better spent conducting oversight of the administration, he said, and working with the president to improve trade policies, the Affordable Care Act and other issues.
“I don’t think you have to just jump into that right now because it can not only politically backfire,” he said about impeachment. “There would be backlash. Our country is divided enough as it is. Democrats right now have an opportunity to try to get some things done.”
Thanks to Republican victories in midterm elections last month, Jones will soon be one of the few remaining Democratic senators from a deeply conservative state. That status has made him something of a guide for his party on how to win back Democrats who voted for Trump 2016.
As longtime friend of Joe Biden, Jones said he hopes the former vice president makes a run as the party’s pick for 2020.
“Democrats need to do a better job at reaching the heartland of America,” he said. Biden is “probably the best one qualified to do that. He’s been doing it for a long, long time, and I’m hoping to see that. I am sure, I feel confident, that there are others as well. We may not know who they are just yet.”
Trump remains popular in Alabama, but that’s shifting, Jones claimed, as voters in the middle “don’t like a lot of the hateful rhetoric.” And while partisans on both sides will remain dug in, for or against the president, others “really can’t point to a lot of things” that are better now, other than tax cuts, after the president’s first two years in office.
“They’re beginning to question,” he said.
Jones says the path for Democrats is to stay focused on the “kitchen table” issues that helped him defeat conservative Republican Roy Moore, who faced decades-old allegations of improper sexual relations with young women, to become the first Democrat to the Senate from Alabama in a generation.
The senator said that even in Alabama people are starting to question whether Trump’s “nationalistic approach” on tariffs is a threat to their financial well-being.
Soybean farmers are watching their crops rot and automobile manufactures, which he says have played a leading role in boosting the economy after other industries declined, face high costs of steel and aluminum tariffs.
“They’re beginning to say, Ok, we put you in here to try to get us a better deal, but there’s got to be an end game. Tell us what the end game is and how long this is going to last.”
Facing his own re-election in 2020, Jones acknowledged having taken some tough votes in the Senate, including against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
“It’s a mixed bag,” he said.
But he said Democratic gains being made in the Deep South — as evidenced by his own election and the closer than expected race for a Senate seat in neighboring Mississippi won by the Republican — shows that the shift.
“Things are changing,” he said.
Follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lisamascaro
AP All-America team: Tide leads with 4 of 10 CFP players
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Tuesday, December 11
The College Football Playoff semifinalists combined to place 10 players on The Associated Press All-America first team, including a high of four from No. 1 Alabama.
The Crimson Tide had six players chosen to the three All-America teams, more than any other school. No. 2 Clemson has three first-teamers, No. 4 Oklahoma has two All-Americans — including quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray — and No. 3 Notre Dame had one.
The Tide and Sooners meet in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 and the Tigers play the Fighting Irish at the Cotton Bowl that day. The winners meet in the College Football Playoff national championship game Jan. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The playoff teams combined for 17 overall selections on the teams chosen by a panel of AP poll voters and released Monday.
The Tide placed two players on each side of the ball, with Outland Trophy winner Quinnen Williams highlighting the defense. Receiver Jerry Jeudy, offensive tackle Jonah Williams and safety Deionte Thompson also made the first team while Tua Tagovailoa was the second-team quarterback.
Tagovailoa finished second behind Murray in the Heisman voting on Saturday. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins was the third-team quarterback after finishing third in the Heisman voting.
Clemson placed defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell on the first team, and offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt. Cornerback Julian Love represented Notre Dame on the first team.
Clemson, Oklahoma and LSU each had four players on the three teams, trailing only Alabama. Notre Dame, Kentucky, Iowa, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Washington and Wisconsin each had three overall selections.
Kentucky placed two players on the first team: linebacker Josh Allen and guard Bunchy Stallings. The Wildcats have not an AP All-American since receiver/kick returner Derek Abney in 2002.
Quarterback — Kyler Murray, junior, Oklahoma
Running backs — Jonathan Taylor, sophomore, Wisconsin; Darrell Henderson, junior, Memphis
Tackles — Jonah Williams, junior, Alabama; Mitch Hyatt, senior, Clemson
Guards — Beau Benzschawel, senior, Wisconsin; Bunchy Stallings, senior, Kentucky
Center — Garrett Bradbury, senior, North Carolina State
Tight end — Jace Sternberger, junior, Texas A&M
Wide receivers — Jerry Jeudy, sophomore, Alabama; Marquise Brown, junior, Oklahoma
All-purpose player — Rondale Moore, freshman, Purdue
Kicker — Andre Szmyt, freshman, Syracuse
Ends — Clelin Ferrell, junior, Clemson; Sutton Smith, junior, Northern Illinois
Tackles — Quinnen Williams, junior, Alabama; Christian Wilkins, senior, Clemson
Linebackers — Josh Allen, senior, Kentucky; Devin White, junior, LSU; Ben Burr-Kirven, senior, Washington
Cornerbacks — Deandre Baker, senior, Georgia; Julian Love, junior, Notre Dame
Safeties — Grant Delpit, sophomore, LSU; Deionte Thompson, junior, Alabama
Punter — Braden Mann, junior, Texas A&M
Quarterback — Tua Tagovailoa, sophomore, Alabama
Running backs — Travis Etienne, sophomore, Clemson; Trayveon Williams, junior, Texas A&M
Tackles — Dalton Risner, senior, Kansas State; Andrew Thomas, sophomore, Georgia
Guards — Dru Samia, senior, Oklahoma; Michael Dieter, senior, Wisconsin
Center — Ross Pierschbacher, senior, Alabama
Tight end — T.J, Hockenson, sophomore, Iowa
Wide receivers — Tylan Wallace, sophomore, Oklahoma State; Andy Isabella, senior, Massachusetts
All-purpose player — Greg Dortch, sophomore, Wake Forest
Kicker — Cole Tracy, senior, LSU
Ends — Montez Sweat, senior, Mississippi State; Jachai Polite, junior, Florida
Tackles — Jerry Tillery, senior, Notre Dame; Gerald Willis III, senior, Miami
Linebackers — Devin Bush, junior, Michigan; David Long Jr., junior, West Virginia; Joe Dineen, senior, Kansas
Cornerbacks — Greedy Williams, sophomore, LSU; Byron Murphy, sophomore, Washington
Safeties — Taylor Rapp, junior, Washington; Amani Hooker, junior, Iowa
Punter — Mitch Wishnowsky, senior, Utah
Quarterbacks — Dwayne Haskins, sophomore, Ohio State
Running backs — Benny Snell, junior, Kentucky; Eno Benjamin, sophomore, Arizona State
Tackles — Andre Dillard, senior, Washington State; Cody Ford, junior, Oklahoma
Guards — Terrone Prescod, senior, North Carolina State; Chris Lindstrom, senior, Boston College
Center — Michael Jordan, junior, Ohio State
Tight end — Noah Fant, junior, Iowa
Wide Receivers — A.J. Brown, junior, Mississippi; David Sills V, senior, West Virginia
All-purpose player — J.J. Taylor, sophomore, Arizona
Kicker — Matt Gay, senior, Utah
Ends — Chase Winovich, senior, Michigan; Jaylon Ferguson, senior, Louisiana Tech
Tackles — Jeffery Simmons, junior, Mississippi State; Ed Oliver, junior, Houston
Linebackers — Paddy Fisher, sophomore, Northwestern; David Woodward, sophomore, Utah State; Te’Von Coney, senior, Notre Dame
Cornerbacks — Hamp Cheevers, junior, Boston College; Lavert Hill, junior, Michigan
Safeties — Andre Cisco, freshman, Syracuse; Jonathan Abram, senior, Mississippi State
Punter — James Smith, sophomore, Cincinnati
By school (first-team selections-overall)
Alabama — 4-6.
Clemson — 3-4.
Kentucky — 2-3.
LSU — 2-4.
Oklahoma — 2-4.
Texas A&M — 2-3.
Wisconsin — 2-3.
Georgia — 1-2.
Memphis — 1-1.
Northern Illinois — 1-1.
North Carolina State — 1-2.
Notre Dame — 1-3.
Syracuse — 1-2.
Washington — 1-3.
SEC — 11.
ACC — 5.
Big Ten — 3.
Big 12 — 2.
American — 1.
Pac-12 — 1.
MAC — 1.
Independent — 1.
Freshman — 2.
Sophomore — 3.
Junior — 12.
Senior — 8.
Selection panel: Rob Asmussen, Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette; Matt Baker, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times; Michael Barber, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch; Matt Brown, The Athletic; Robert Cessna, Bryan-College Station (Texas) Eagle; Rece Davis, ESPN; Pat Dooley, Gainesville (Fla.) Sun; Scott Hamilton, WECT-TV (Wilmington, N.C.); Eric Hansen, The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune; Brian Howell, Buffzone.com, Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera; Rob Long, WJZ FM 105.7 The Fan Baltimore; Sean Manning, The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.); Conor O’Neill, Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal; Soren Petro, 810 WHB Kansas City, Mo.; Keith Sargeant, NJ.Com/Star-Ledger; Jon Wilner, San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News.
You may not even need a telescope to see Comet 46P/Wirtanen in the night sky this month
December 12, 2018
Author: Shannon Schmoll, Director, Abrams Planetarium, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University
Disclosure statement: Shannon Schmoll does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
As comets blaze across the night sky, they can bring wonder and excitement to those watching from Earth – or even a sense of impending doom. In the past, people debated what comets even are – an atmospheric phenomenon, a fire in the sky, a star with a broom-like tail?
You’ll get a chance to see which visual description you think fits best this month: Comet 46P/Wirtanen is expected to make an appearance in mid-December that may well be visible even to the naked eye.
Anatomy of a comet
Through Edmond Halley’s study in the 17th century of what became known as Halley’s comet, astronomers realized comets are within our solar system. They have highly elliptical or elongated orbits around the sun. Some have orbits that extend well beyond Pluto while some stay relatively close.
When comets are farther out in the solar system, they’re not much to look at. They’re often compared to dirty snowballs. But unlike a rocky asteroid, a comet also has volatile frozen gases such as methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and ammonia along with their nucleus of rock, ice and dust.
As a comet gets closer to the sun, heat causes the comet’s volatile elements to turn from solid into gas in a process called sublimation. As water, methane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia are released, it creates the tail comets are known for, as well as a bright cloud called a coma around its nucleus.
Comets actually have two distinct tails: one a dust tail, the other an ion or gas tail. Solar wind and radiation pressure push the tails away from the sun. Ultraviolet light ionizes some of the tail material, creating a charged gas that interacts with the charged solar wind and ends up pointing directly away from the sun. The noncharged dust tail still follows the comet’s orbit, resulting in a more curved tail.
As a comet goes through this process, it will brighten, making for a great show for stargazers – or rather, cometgazers. Predicting how bright a comet will be is notoriously difficult though, since it’s never clear exactly how the gases will behave. Even measuring the brightness is tricky. Unlike the way a star’s brightness is concentrated into a single point from our perspective on Earth, a comet’s brightness is diffused over a larger area.
A visit from 46P/Wirtanen
Astronomer Carl Wirtanen discovered his namesake comet in 1948. He was a skilled object hunter and used photos of the night sky to spot the quickly moving object, at least astronomically speaking.
Comet 46P/Wirtanen’s orbit keeps it pretty near to the sun. Its aphelion, or farthest point from the sun, is about 5.1 astronomical units (AU), which is just a tad bigger than Jupiter’s orbit. Its perihelion, or closest approach to the sun, is about 1 AU, just about the Earth’s distance from the sun. This path takes about 5.4 years to complete, meaning it comes back into view quite frequently compared to other famous comets.
Right now, it is approaching its perihelion. Its closest point to the sun will fall on Dec. 16 – which is why it will be brightest on this day.
Comet 46P/Wirtanen is a particularly active comet – called a hyperactive comet – and tends to be brighter than other comets of a similar size. This makes it a good candidate for viewing. Predictions suggest it will be as bright as a magnitude 3, which is a little brighter than the dimmest star in the Big Dipper, Megrez. However, there are some predictions that keep it beyond naked eye visibility at a brightest magnitude of only 7.6. The dimmest object visible with the naked human eye is magnitude 6, under perfect observing conditions.
If those magnitudes seem a little off, it’s because astronomers use a backwards system. The smaller the number, the brighter the object.
To try to see this comet, get to as dark a sky as you can on Dec. 16, when it will be at its brightest. It will be between the constellation Taurus and the Pleiades star cluster.
If you cannot see Comet 46P/Wirtanen with your naked eye, use binoculars or a small telescope to catch a glimpse. The comet is already in the sky, but requires a telescope. You can start following now using maps showing its position night by night. Its location in the sky also means it is visible for all but Earth’s extreme southernmost latitudes.
The comet’s position near Taurus makes it ideal for spotting all night long. Taurus is just in the east after the sunset and moves toward the west throughout the night.
May you have clear skies for observing. You can decide for yourself whether this comet will be an omen of good or bad luck for 2019.
Pope to visit Bulgaria, Macedonia in May in busy travel year
Thursday, December 13
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is travelling in May to the Orthodox countries of Bulgaria and Macedonia, where he will pay tribute to Macedonian-born Mother Teresa, officials said Thursday.
During the May 5-7 trip, Francis will visit the Bulgarian cities of Sofia and Rakovski, followed by a stop in the Macedonian capital Skopje en route home, the Vatican said.
Francis canonized Mother Theresa as St. Theresa of Calcutta in September 2016 for her dedication to serving the poor. She was born Agnese Gonhxe Bojahxiu in Skopje in 1910 and died in Calcutta in 1997, where she spent much of her life.
Macedonia, a small Balkan nation of 2.1 million people, is predominantly Orthodox Christian, with a tiny Catholic community.
The former Soviet republic of Bulgaria, too, is mostly Orthodox and hosted St. John Paul II in 2002.
During that visit, the Polish-born John Paul tried to put to rest suspicion that Bulgaria’s secret service was behind Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca’s attempt to kill him in St. Peter’s Square in 1981.
The motto for Francis’ Bulgarian visit is “Peace on Earth.”
Francis, who turns 82 this month, has a busy year of travel scheduled. The Vatican has confirmed trips to Panama, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates in the first half of the year. The pontiff is also considering visiting Madagascar and Japan in 2019.
Time travel is possible – but only if you have an object with infinite mass
December 13, 2018
Author: Gaurav Khanna, Professor of Physics, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Disclosure statement: Gaurav Khanna receives funding from NSF.
Partners: University of Massachusetts provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The concept of time travel has always captured the imagination of physicists and laypersons alike. But is it really possible? Of course it is. We’re doing it right now, aren’t we? We are all traveling into the future one second at a time.
But that was not what you were thinking. Can we travel much further into the future? Absolutely. If we could travel close to the speed of light, or in the proximity of a black hole, time would slow down enabling us to travel arbitrarily far into the future. The really interesting question is whether we can travel back into the past.
I am a physics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and first heard about the notion of time travel when I was 7, from a 1980 episode of Carl Sagan’s classic TV series, “Cosmos.” I decided right then that someday, I was going to pursue a deep study of the theory that underlies such creative and remarkable ideas: Einstein’s relativity. Twenty years later, I emerged with a Ph.D. in the field and have been an active researcher in the theory ever since.
Now, one of my doctoral students has just published a paper in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity that describes how to build a time machine using a very simple construction.
Closed time-like curves
Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the possibility of warping time to such a high degree that it actually folds upon itself, resulting in a time loop. Imagine you’re traveling along this loop; that means that at some point, you’d end up at a moment in the past and begin experiencing the same moments since, all over again – a bit like deja vu, except you wouldn’t realize it. Such constructs are often referred to as “closed time-like curves” or CTCs in the research literature, and popularly referred to as “time machines.” Time machines are a byproduct of effective faster-than-light travel schemes and understanding them can improve our understanding of how the universe works.
Over the past few decades well-known physicists like Kip Thorne and Stephen Hawking produced seminal work on models related to time machines.
The general conclusion that has emerged from previous research, including Thorne’s and Hawking’s, is that nature forbids time loops. This is perhaps best explained in Hawking’s “Chronology Protection Conjecture,” which essentially says that nature doesn’t allow for changes to its past history, thus sparing us from the paradoxes that can emerge if time travel were possible.
Perhaps the most well-known amongst these paradoxes that emerge due to time travel into the past is the so-called “grandfather paradox” in which a traveler goes back into the past and murders his own grandfather. This alters the course of history in a way that a contradiction emerges: The traveler was never born and therefore cannot exist. There have been many movie and novel plots based on the paradoxes that result from time travel – perhaps some of the most popular ones being the “Back to the Future” movies and “Groundhog Day.”
Depending on the details, different physical phenomena may intervene to prevent closed time-like curves from developing in physical systems. The most common is the requirement for a particular type of “exotic” matter that must be present in order for a time loop to exist. Loosely speaking, exotic matter is matter that has negative mass. The problem is negative mass is not known to exist in nature.
Caroline Mallary, a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has published a new model for a time machine in the journal Classical & Quantum Gravity. This new model does not require any negative mass exotic material and offers a very simple design.
Mallary’s model consists of two super long cars – built of material that is not exotic, and have positive mass – parked in parallel. One car moves forward rapidly, leaving the other parked. Mallary was able to show that in such a setup, a time loop can be found in the space between the cars.
An animation shows how Mallary’s time loop works. As the spacecraft enters the time loop, its future self appears as well, and one can trace back the positions of both at every moment afterwards. This animation is from the perspective of an external observer, who is watching the spacecraft enter and emerge from the time loop.
So can you build this in your backyard?
If you suspect there is a catch, you are correct. Mallary’s model requires that the center of each car has infinite density. That means they contain objects – called singularities – with an infinite density, temperature and pressure. Moreover, unlike singularities that are present in the interior of black holes, which makes them totally inaccessible from the outside, the singularities in Mallary’s model are completely bare and observable, and therefore have true physical effects.
Physicists don’t expect such peculiar objects to exist in nature either. So, unfortunately a time machine is not going to be available anytime soon. However, this work shows that physicists may have to refine their ideas about why closed time-like curves are forbidden.
Hank M. Greene, logged in via Google: Time is messy and uneven, not uniform. Witness gravitational lensing and witnessing the exact same event in the past over and over. Paradox is pure, ideal, not the messy reality of the universe. Time around black holes, or the edge of event horizons at merging black holes gets even messier. Imagine information at the tangent of these events. Something tells me we still have things to learn about certain types of informational time travel.